Earlier this week, President Donald Trump said the administration was considering extending the federal eviction moratorium through an executive order while Congress continues to put together the next coronavirus stimulus package. Since the moratorium expired on July 24, millions of renters have had to rely on state-level assistance and, if unemployed, unemployment benefits. A new study published Friday found that as many as 40 million Americans could be evicted before the end of the year if there is no new federal assistance.
In a new report, the Aspen Institute found that up to 43% of renter households could be evicted this year if the same conditions the U.S. faces today continue. Emily Benfer, a law professor at Wake Forest University School of Law and a co-author on the report, told CNN the gravity of the situation "cannot be overstressed." Unless the federal government funds eviction prevention, "We are not only risking widespread eviction and homelessness, we are guaranteeing negative health outcomes, greater unemployment, educational decline, and long-term harm for renters, property owners, and communities," Benfer explained.
Black and Latino Americans make up about 80% of renters facing eviction, the Aspen Institue found. In July, 26% of Black renters and a quarter of Latino renters could not pay rent, compared to 13% of White renters, according to the institute. Separately, a Politico analysis found that federal housing aid during the pandemic has helped more White households over Black households since the aid favored homeowners over renters.
Black Americans are more likely to rent than other groups, and they could face evictions in states without moratoriums. While New York, the state with the most Black rental homes, extended the state moratorium through Sept. 4, Texas, the state with the second-most, does not have a state-level eviction moratorium. The federal protection on evictions expired late last month, and only 20 states have state-level protections. The Aspen Institute estimates that at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance could keep millions from being evicted.
The report on evictions came the same day the Labor Department published its August monthly jobs report. While the U.S. economy added 1.8 million jobs in July, the economy has still lost 12.9 million jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. The unemployment rate is now at 10.2%. There is also no federal unemployment benefits program, as the $600 weekly benefit included in the CARES Act expired late last month with no extension, and Republicans and Democrats continue working on the future of the benefit.